The Allman Brothers Band
Live at the Atlanta International Pop Festival
[July 3 & 5, 1970]
The Music Box's #10 specialty package for 2003
First Appeared at The Music Box, December 2003, Volume 10, #12
Written by John Metzger
Since its release in 1971, At the Fillmore East rightly has been considered not only the finest album in The Allman Brothers Band’s catalog, but also one of the greatest concert recordings ever to be issued. The group’s melding of southern rock, boogie blues, and freewheeling jazz is groundbreaking; the interplay among the musicians first-rate. That the original performances were skillfully edited is of little consequence for the end result was pure perfection, capturing the complete essence of the ensemble better than any of its studio recordings.
Not surprisingly, The Allman Brothers Band has returned repeatedly to its 1970-71 era whenever it has issued an archival release. An unedited version of the legendary 1971 Fillmore Concerts was unearthed in 1992, and other releases have included 1991’s Live at Ludlow Garage: 1970, 1996’s Fillmore East, February 1970, and 2002’s American University 12/13/70. The latest installment is the double-disc Live at the Atlanta International Pop Festival — July 3 & 5, 1970, and it is yet another gem. Although all this material from one small chunk of the band’s history may be too much for the casual fan, the diehards are undoubtedly eating it up. And why not? For those in the know, it’s a joy to hear how the band transforms its songs into something new and different each and every night. Yes, the alterations are minor from one night to the next — as evidenced by the nearly identical set lists from these two sequential performances — but over the course of a month or two, the changes could be quite dramatic.
Still, that’s not to say that Live at the Atlanta International Pop Festival should have been truncated, edited, or pared down in any way, shape, or form. Each disc represents a single concert, and each stands on its own as a testament to the power that was wielded on a nightly basis by The Allman Brothers Band. Featured are two beautiful renditions of Dickey Betts’ sparkling instrumental In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, and playfully tucked inside both versions are brief snippets from Aquarius, the hippie anthem from the musical Hair. There are also two thunderous performances of Whipping Post and a pair of expansive takes on Mountain Jam. Add to that a pristine reading of Dreams, a passionate rendering of Stormy Monday, and Berry Oakley’s gruff, gritty cover of Willie Dixon’s Hoochie Coochie Man, and this 2 ½ hour set becomes a must-have for fans of The Allman Brothers Band as well as a perfect supplementary collection for those looking for something beyond At the Fillmore East.
Live at the Atlanta International Pop Festival is available
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
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